Shrubs dioecious, erect, mainly 10-25 dm; branchlets slender, terete. Leaves sessile; blade narrowly linear-elliptic, 10-50 × 2-3 mm, firm, revolute, often acute apically. Staminate flowers in glomerules borne in slender interrupted mostly paniculate spikes. Pistillate flowers paniculate or in few-flowered axillary glomerules. Fruiting bracteoles sessile or subsessile, lanceolate to ovate, 4-6 mm, about as wide, each bract with a pair of thin wings 3 mm broad or less, irregularly dentate or laciniate, free tips of bracts much exceeding the wings. 2n = 18.
Flowering spring-fall. Saline deserts, with shadscale, Canotia, Yucca, Opuntia, Rhus, and Eriogonum; 0-800 m; Ariz., Calif.; nw Mexico (Baja California, Sonora).
Specimens of Atriplex canescens var. macilenta resemble A. linearis. The taxa have been placed together by some previous workers. Nevertheless, the stems of A. linearis are consistently more slender, the leaves proportionally narrower, and the bracts, though smaller, more closely simulate those of A. canescens. Its diploid nature signals a different evolutionary pathway than that for most of A. canescens, considered broadly. Narrow leaves occur within A. canescens, in the broad sense, sometimes with geographic correlation, sometimes not.
FNA 2003, Benson and Darrow 1981
Common Name: thinleaf fourwing saltbush Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub General: Shrub 1-2 m high and wide, branches slender and terete Leaves: Linear to narrowly oblong, the larger leaves often 1-3 cm by 2-4 mm, sessile. Flowers: Dioecious, enclosed in a sepal-like accrescent bracts, staminate flowers in glomerules borne in slender interrupted paniculate spikes, pistillate flowers paniculate or in few-flowered axillary glomerules. Fruits: Fruiting bracts 4-winged, often 5 mm and about as wide. Ecology: Found in dry places, sandy soils, dunes, flats, often saline soil below 3,000 ft (914 m); flowers May-July. Distribution: Ranges across Arizona and California and into northwest Mexico in Sonora and Baja California. Notes: Most floras identify this species as being below 2500 ft (762 m), the specimen was documented in inventory work at Tumacacori NHP. FNA distinguishes this as still being A. linearis. Ethnobotany: Seeds used for meal, yellow dye. Havasupai used it to make soap for hair washing and to treat itches and rashes. Hopi used the ashes as a substitute for baking soda. Navajo used it as an emetic, to treat ant bites, cough, and as a hair tonic. They also used it as feed for cattle, sheep and goats. Etymology: Atriplex is an old Latin name for this plant, linearis mean linear, or parallel sided. Synonyms: Atriplex canescens subsp. linearis, Atriplex canescens var. linearis Editor: SBuckley, 2010